Q&A with the Good Neighbors Committee on Social Issues Facing Vanderhoof Residents – Vanderhoof Omineca Express

Vanderhoof’s Good Neighbors Committee (GNC) has identified issues of inclusivity, racism, diversity, intolerance, among others, within the community.

Q: What issues has the GNC identified at Vanderhoof?

A: Co-opting of the anti-vax movement by groups supported by organizations like Action4Canada that promote hate (hate is equal to statements, posts, opinions, etc. that are likely to expose a person or class of people to hatred or contempt). Resistance to inclusive programs and activities in schools – especially education about Indigenous history and our collective role, as a society, in maintaining power imbalances to the detriment of Indigenous peoples; and, in particular, to Queer/Rainbow celebration/inclusion.

Q: Are there any solutions to the issues that the GNC has discussed?

A: We have focused on community education about hate groups, provided a means for concerned citizens to discuss and participate in problem solving, we are sensitive to the implications of racism and hate, both through community education and response and connection with the RCMP, and provided educational opportunities to combat racism and hate. We also actively support opportunities for inclusion, for example, supporting the work of the school district around Share the Love Day, the Vanderhoof District around the Rainbow Sidewalk, community organizers around Black Lives/Indigenous Lives Matter rallies and of the PRIDE 2022 event this summer at Riverside Park. We believe in fighting hate by actively supporting inclusion so that everyone is safe in our community.

Q: Diversity is important to the success of any community. What can individual people do to bring about this change?

A: It is important for all of us to question how we think and why we have the thoughts and beliefs that guide our actions. We all grew up in a society which, in essence, is a racist system. To continue to evolve, we must continue to examine ourselves and continue to feel comfortable being uncomfortable. Even nice people are racist, let’s keep growing in empathy and understanding, which requires uncomfortable stretches

Q: What type of work did the GNC do last year and does it plan to do this year?

A: The Good Neighbors Committee has organized many events and awareness activities over the years, and more recently the group is helping to create actions against racism. The GNC had a few rounds of weekly discussions on Calls to Action for Truth and Reconciliation and UNDRIP articles. We also participated and encouraged the community to join us in our Active Witness training through ResilienceBC. Plans are underway to create informative podcasts that highlight the diversity in our community and provide information on how we can better make everyone feel welcome by highlighting the ways we exclude others or make us feel unwanted in our community.

Q: How can people join your meetings or, if people want to volunteer, how do they contact you?

A: Following our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/gnc.nechako and sharing our posts is a great way to help spread the word and create action. You can message us on Facebook or email gnc.nechako@gmail.com. Learn more about us, our history and our past projects.

Aman Parhar
Publisher – Vanderhoof Omineca Express, Caledonia Courier

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